Warm Winters & Cool Summers
Eastern Shore Heating and Air Conditioning designs all-weather solutions for commercial projects
Growing up in Toms River, New Jersey, John Homiek Sr. was interested in all things mechanical. Today, the company he founded in 1979, Eastern Shore Heating and Air Conditioning (Eastern Shore), is a thriving two-generation, family-owned commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor that provides design-build services, systems installation and maintenance primarily in northern and central New Jersey.
The business has grown over the years, and since 2014 the company has been located in its 10,000-square-foot office and warehouse in Brick, New Jersey. For four decades, Eastern Shore has kept New Jersey apartments, commercial buildings and homes warm during the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.
John Homiek Jr., President of Eastern Shore, wanted to join the business since he was old enough to hold the tools his dad gave him. Father and son are known as “John Sr.” and “John Jr.,” respectively, to their clients, team members and family. “I do find that the contractors we work with like the family aspect of our business,” John Jr. says.
“We love the partnerships we’ve built over the years with commercial property owners and managers who place their trust in us,” says John Sr., Principal. “We are very focused on service and take great pride in anything we touch.”
Much of their work is repeat business from large developers and builders. “Those relationships are built on always doing the right thing and getting jobs done on time,” John Jr. says.
HVAC Design-Build and Installation
Eastern Shore provides design-build services and installation of complex commercial HVAC systems for large, multistory and multifamily projects, from rooftop units to variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems, packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC) systems, high-velocity systems, radiant heating, ventilating equipment and more. Maintenance services include emergency support for property owners and operators. The company’s air quality services, including UV lights to kill bacteria, are increasingly in demand for medical offices and other spaces.
“Offering design-build services is a plus for developers and building owners who want to ensure the cost-effectiveness of projects,” John Jr. says. “Clients like our ability to be very hands-on. Sometimes, HVAC systems can be overdesigned. We review engineering plans and are often able to provide guidance on simplifying the plan, which reduces the time and cost of construction/installation and even system maintenance.”
The team also provides value engineering for its clients. “We can look at project plans and make recommendations to improve cost effectiveness,” John Sr. says. Estimating and CAD drawings are performed in-house.
The company performs full installations, replacements and service for leading HVAC equipment, including Lennox, Trane, YORK and Magic-Pak systems. Eastern Shore is an authorized dealer of Lennox equipment.
“Equipment is increasingly smarter,” John Jr. says. “We’re committed to staying on the cutting edge of technology within our field. Our techs all have iPads and software to troubleshoot systems issues. That allows us to be even more efficient in the field, which is beneficial to clients.” Eastern Shore designs and builds automated control systems to be highly user-friendly, he adds.
A Longtime Family Business
John Sr. became interested in the HVAC field while at Lincoln Technical Institute in Union, New Jersey. After graduation he gained valuable experience working for HVAC firms, then made the leap to business ownership. He launched Eastern Shore out of his mother’s garage, initially as a residential HVAC company.
John Jr. worked at the business part time and during summers while in high school. “When I was 17 years old, I drove our big-box truck loaded with equipment to job sites,” he recalls. “I wanted to be involved.” He graduated with a business degree from Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey, and joined Eastern Shore in 2002.
Growing up in the company provided a solid foundation for John Jr. and firsthand experience in all areas of the business. Within a few years he was named President. He’s partnered with John Sr. to broaden and expand the company’s horizons, particularly in the commercial arena.
The third generation of the company is already in training, according to John Sr. Four-year-old John III, John Jr.’s son, insists on wearing his favorite outfit: a small Eastern Shore T-shirt and cap. “He already wants to be involved and help us work,” John Sr. says.
Multiplying Multifamily Projects
The Homieks are especially proud of the design-build work they’ve completed on large multifamily projects.
“We are excited to continue to build new relationships and utilize our vast experience in the multifamily arena to take on new upcoming projects and challenges,” John Jr. says. “More and more apartment buildings and assisted living facilities are under development or in the planning stages.”
Younger generations are more likely to opt for apartment living options rather than buying a starter home, according to John Sr. That trend keeps Eastern Shore busy. “They want to live in or near urban areas, adjacent to transportation and just enjoy their lives versus buying and maintaining a suburban home,” John Sr. says. “They’re attracted to common areas and on-site amenities likes gyms. That’s what makes apartments so popular.”
Eastern Shore recently completed a project at The Station at Willow Grove, a 278-unit apartment complex in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. “We completely designed this building’s HVAC systems for all apartments, including amenity areas and the parking garages. We took the project from paper plans through equipment recommendations and installation,” John Jr. says.
The company also recently finished work on a new 254-unit apartment building, The Current on River, in Hackensack, New Jersey, and side-by-side apartment buildings in Lyndhurst, New Jersey: The Winston at Lyndhurst (218 units) and The Station at Lyndhurst (192 units).
The Willow Grove and both Lyndhurst apartment communities were design-build projects. “We provided quite a bit of value engineering to bring the work in under budget, and at same time make sure they were completed according to their timelines,” John Jr. says.
Assisted living and nursing home projects are also an increasing segment of the company’s work, which includes The Bristal at Somerset, a large assisted living facility in Somerset, New Jersey.
Installations for 800 units at three additional apartment complexes are scheduled for 2020, with an additional 800 units slated for 2021. “And that’s just our apartment building projects,” John Jr. says.
Eastern Shore has also completed projects for several auto dealerships, including Pine Belt Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Lakewood, New Jersey, and Matt Blatt Toms River Kia in Toms River. Additionally, the company installs systems for medical buildings and self-storage facilities.
Building a Solid Team
Over the years, Eastern Shore has greatly expanded its team of installers, technicians and administrative staff, to more than 60 people today. Longtime employees include Office Manager Lauren Gorda, CPA/Controller Cheryl Homiek and Aran Harper, Sales and Purchasing.
Field team members of many years include Michael Buonadonna, General Manager/System Design Specialist/Sales; Project Managers Anthony Todisco and Gary Brandt; Piping Project Manager Anthony Sanchez; and Service Manager Richie Gregg. “Their work ethic and commitment to doing quality work reminds me of my grandfather,” John Sr. says. “We put a lot of emphasis on employing local technicians and giving them the tools they need to have successful careers with us.”
“We maintain a small shop by design,” John Jr. adds. Team members wear many hats. “They learn and grow in the diversified work environment we’ve intentionally created. A new hire could start out with us as an installer, do good work, and then be given the opportunity to become a project manager on larger projects.”
Technicians aren’t confined to performing just one role, which can lead to stagnation and boredom, according to John Jr. Instead, they experience the momentum and confidence that come from exposure to a broad range of project types, sizes and solutions. “Our clients benefit from the breadth of knowledge that our team members bring to the job site,” John Jr. says.
The company hires experienced technicians as well as those just starting out in HVAC. It provides in-house training and sends employees to equipment certification trainings offered by manufacturers such as LG and Mitsubishi Electric. Keeping people safe on job sites is also crucial. All team members have either OSHA-10 or OSHA-30 certification.
“We want our people to grow with us and stay with us,” John Jr. says. Employee benefits include medical and 401(k) plans.
Connecting a New Generation
John Sr. looks for opportunities to connect the next generation with careers in the skilled trades. “It’s harder now to get kids involved in the trades than when I was growing up,” he says. He serves as Treasurer on the board of trustees of the Ocean County Foundation for Vocational Technical Education in Toms River. The foundation supports and promotes the Ocean County Vocational Technical School, focusing on student attraction, development and job opportunities.
There will always be demand for good people in the trades to join the construction industry, according to John Jr. “It’s a solid career path with competitive earnings and benefits. There’s also an inherent pride in being a part of completed buildings and projects,” he says.
There will also always be demand for reputable, family-owned contractors that provide reliable and professional service, year over year and decade over decade.
“When I talk to people in the construction industry and in our community, they like knowing that this is the Homiek family business,” John Sr. says. “Being family-owned is important to us and to them. Contractors like working with family-led companies that demonstrate good character. Skilled trades workers are attracted to the family atmosphere. They stay with us because we’re committed to the safety and prosperity of employees as an extension of our own family,” he adds.
“Through serving both the residential and commercial markets for over 40 years, we have become a trusted, household name in central New Jersey,” John Sr. says. “Clients know they can rely on us now and for many years to come.”